As home to 1920s debauchery and excess and Hitler's Final Solution, Berlin's physical and symbolic landscape was an important staging ground for the highs and lows of modernity.Life among the Ruins asks how postwar attempts to rebuild infrastructure and identity necessitated an engagement with past practices set in motion long before 1945. Berliners were forced to adapt swiftly to changing historical circumstances. City spaces could be enabling as well as restrictive, sites of danger and desire, places of crime and adventure. As expats, soldiers, visitors, and citizens navigated the ruined urban landscape in search of what once was, they discovered signs of destruction but also signs of life. Although a symbol of defeat and destruction, the rubble gave refuge to a reemerging gay and lesbian scene, while youth gangs, prostitutes, hoods, and hustlers sought shelter and community there. As a metaphor for a modernity both feared and desired, the book questions what became of this history in the years leading up to the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 when Cold War confrontation meant the city continued to occupy a unique place in 20th century European history.